Health Wars: Energy Drinks - 0, Coffee - 100

November 16, 2010

Time.com recently reported that coffee drinking is not catching on among the 18-24 yr-old crowd, with only a little over one in four enjoying the brew. Author Janet Morrissey went on to describe the love affair of many in this age group with energy drinks like Red Bull. Basically, they prefer a soft carbonated drink, like the normal soda, but with added caffeine to give them energy. Hmmm, this age group doesn’t have enough energy as it is? The old adage is true: youth is wasted on the young.

Wisdom is also a missing quality among those in this age group who choose Red Bull over coffee because of “health concerns” with coffee. Morrissey even quotes one young man who states that “aggressive marketing” is part of the reason his generation is choosing energy drinks over coffee. When our youth start learning common sense, they’ll realize that a pretty package wrapped in hype isn’t necessarily good for the body.

If we compare energy drinks like Red Bull with coffee in terms of health benefits, the first consideration is source of the substance. Coffee beans are taken whole from plants and baked before being sold for consumption, and that is about as simple as it gets in terms of processing. Red Bull is based on what food? It has sugar (five teaspoons of the unhealthy stuff), water, and what else? The caffeine and all the nutrients added come from unknown sources. Some of these nutrients, such as the unpronounceable glucuronolactone, have not been studied in terms of their long-term effects on the body.

Conversely, coffee has long been studied for its effects on health. In moderation, it has been associated with the body’s ability to prevent diabetes, liver disorders, Parkinson’s and many other ailments. Red Bull and its ilk have not been found to enhance health in any way. But many negative effects have been documented for excess sugar, for carbonated drinks in general, and for excess caffeine. This article can’t even begin to cover the problems associated with energy drinks combined with alcohol, which is a common practice.

Hopefully our young people will start waking up to the actual facts regarding their energy drinks before they destroy their health. They can have their sugar-based potions; for those of us over 25, we can stick to our coffee. The statistics show that the reported love of the coffee taste increases with age. Is it a coincidence that wisdom also increases with age?

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